Parents of pupils urged to take up symptom free coronavirus testing in Kent to keep schools open
Regular covid tests for entire families will help prevent the closure of class and school bubbles says Kent County Council.
The authority, which is responsible for asymptomatic testing sites in the county, is appealing for all families with a child in school or college to play their part in the work to keep schools open and free of coronavirus cases, by signing-up for twice-weekly rapid testing.
Since the full reopening of schools last Monday (March 8) the government has expanded its testing capacity to offer free twice-weekly tests to all households with a child or young person attending school, college or university. The move also extends to any childcare or support bubbles connected to those families.
Andrew Scott-Clark, Kent County Council’s Director of Public Health, explained: “Towards the end of last month, as schools were preparing to reopen to all pupils, the Government announced that twice-weekly testing, using rapid lateral flow tests, would be given for free to all families and households with primary and secondary school and college-aged children and young people, including childcare and support bubbles. This was in addition to the regular testing of all school staff and secondary school pupils, which had already been announced."
Parents or households with a child in school can either make regular visits to their nearest asymptomatic testing site for lateral flow tests that give a result in around 30 minutes, collect home test kits from PCR testing centres during special collection times or apply online via a special government website to have test kits delivered through the post.
Mr Scott-Clark, who says all people who live or work in Kent but particularly those who have to leave home for their job or shop for essentials should commit to regular testing, says there will be 'less need' for class bubbles to shut down or entire year groups to self isolate if symptom-free people with coronavirus who have direct links with schools and pupils are identified as soon as possible.
He said: "Kent County Council fully supports the Government’s stance on whole-family testing. As many as one in three people with COVID-19 do not have symptoms and could be spreading the virus without knowing it. Regular testing will help to identify symptom-free individuals so they can self-isolate and avoid spreading the virus further, including to other members of their school community.
"There will then be less need for class bubbles and year groups to self-isolate, meaning pupils will spend longer in school, catching up on missed learning and reconnecting with other aspects of their lives that have been affected by the pandemic. I would therefore urge all families in Kent to take up the offer of free twice-weekly testing for the benefit of their whole communities.”